The wind in the willows, p.1
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       The Wind in the Willows, p.1
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           Kenneth Grahame
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The Wind in the Willows

  Produced by David Edwards, Jen Haines and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at (Thisfile was produced from images generously made availableby The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)

  Front Cover]


  _The Piper at the Gates of Dawn_]




  Front Fly Leaf showing the main characters enjoying a picnic]



  _Copyright, 1908, 1913, by_ CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS _Published October, 1913_








  VI. MR. TOAD 139








  The Piper at the Gates of Dawn _Frontispiece_

  Facing Page

  It was the Water Rat 8

  "Come on!" he said. "We shall just have to walk it" 50

  In panic, he began to run 64

  Through the Wild Wood and the snow 94

  Toad was a helpless prisoner in the remotest dungeon 164

  He lay prostrate in his misery on the floor 196

  "It's a hard life, by all accounts," murmured the Rat 240

  Dwelling chiefly on his own cleverness, and presence of mind in emergencies 292

  The Badger said, "Now then, follow me!" 326



  The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaninghis little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on laddersand steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till hehad dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all overhis black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving inthe air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating evenhis dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontentand longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung downhis brush on the floor, said, "Bother!" and "O blow!" and also "Hangspring-cleaning!" and bolted out of the house without even waiting toput on his coat. Something up above was calling him imperiously, andhe made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to thegravelled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearerto the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled andscrooged, and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched andscraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself,"Up we go! Up we go!" till at last, pop! his snout came out into thesunlight and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a greatmeadow.

  "This is fine!" he said to himself. "This is better than whitewashing!"The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heatedbrow, and after the seclusion of the cellarage he had lived in so longthe carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout.Jumping off all his four legs at once, in the joy of living and thedelight of spring without its cleaning, he pursued his way across themeadow till he reached the hedge on the further side.

  "Hold up!" said an elderly rabbit at the gap. "Sixpence for theprivilege of passing by the private road!" He was bowled over in aninstant by the impatient and contemptuous Mole, who trotted along theside of the hedge chaffing the other rabbits as they peeped hurriedlyfrom their holes to see what the row was about. "Onion-sauce!Onion-sauce!" he remarked jeeringly, and was gone before they couldthink of a thoroughly satisfactory reply. Then they all startedgrumbling at each other. "How _stupid_ you are! Why didn't you tellhim--" "Well, why didn't _you_ say--" "You might have reminded him--"and so on, in the usual way; but, of course, it was then much toolate, as is always the case.

  It all seemed too good to be true. Hither and thither through the meadowshe rambled busily, along the hedgerows, across the copses, findingeverywhere birds building, flowers budding, leaves thrusting--everythinghappy, and progressive, and occupied. And instead of having an uneasyconscience pricking him and whispering "whitewash!" he somehow could onlyfeel how jolly it was to be the only idle dog among all these busycitizens. After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so muchto be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.

  He thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlesslyalong, suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never in hislife had he seen a river before--this sleek, sinuous, full-bodiedanimal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle andleaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates thatshook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shakeand a-shiver--glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl,chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. Bythe side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by theside of a man who holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and whentired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered onto him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sentfrom the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.

  As he sat on the grass and looked across the river, a dark hole in thebank opposite, just above the water's edge, caught his eye, anddreamily he fell to considering what a nice, snug dwelling-place itwould make for an animal with few wants and fond of a bijou riversideresidence, above flood level and remote from noise and dust. As hegazed, something bright and small seemed to twinkle down in the heartof it, vanished, then twinkled once more like a tiny star. But itcould hardly be a star in such an unlikely situation; and it was tooglittering and small for a glow-worm. Then, as he looked, it winked athim, and so declared itself to be an eye; and a small face begangradually to grow up round it, like a frame round a picture.

  A brown little face, with whiskers.

  A grave round face, with the same twinkle in its eye that had firstattracted his notice.

  Small neat ears and thick silky hair.

  It was the Water Rat!

  Then the two animals stood and regarded each other cautiously.

  "Hullo, Mole!" said the Water Rat.

  "Hullo, Rat!" said the Mole.

  "Would you like to come over?" enquired the Rat presently.

  "Oh, it's all very well to _talk_," said the Mole rather pettishly, hebeing new to a river and riverside life and its ways.

  The Rat said nothing, but stooped and unfastened a rope and hauled onit; then lightly stepped into a little boat which the Mole had notobserved. It was painted blue outside and white within, and was justthe size for two animals; and the
Mole's whole heart went out to it atonce, even though he did not yet fully understand its uses.

  The Rat sculled smartly across and made fast. Then he held up hisfore-paw as the Mole stepped gingerly down. "Lean on that!" he said."Now then, step lively!" and the Mole to his surprise and rapturefound himself actually seated in the stern of a real boat.

  "This has been a wonderful day!" said he, as the Rat shoved off andtook to the sculls again. "Do you know, I've never been in a boatbefore in all my life."

  _It was the Water Rat_]

  "What?" cried the Rat, open-mouthed: "Never been in a--you never--wellI--what have you been doing, then?"

  "Is it so nice as all that?" asked the Mole shyly, though he was quiteprepared to believe it as he leant back in his seat and surveyed thecushions, the oars, the rowlocks, and all the fascinating fittings,and felt the boat sway lightly under him.

  "Nice? It's the _only_ thing," said the Water Rat solemnly as he leantforward for his stroke. "Believe me, my young friend, there is_nothing_--absolute nothing--half so much worth doing as simplymessing about in boats. Simply messing," he went on dreamily:"messing--about--in--boats; messing--"

  "Look ahead, Rat!" cried the Mole suddenly.

  It was too late. The boat struck the bank full tilt. The dreamer, thejoyous oarsman, lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heelsin the air.

  "--about in boats--or _with_ boats," the Rat went on composedly,picking himself up with a pleasant laugh. "In or out of 'em, itdoesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm ofit. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive atyour destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether younever get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never doanything in particular; and when you've done it there's alwayssomething else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd muchbetter not. Look here! If you've really nothing else on hand thismorning, supposing we drop down the river together, and have a longday of it?"

  The Mole waggled his toes from sheer happiness, spread his chest witha sigh of full contentment, and leant back blissfully into the softcushions. "_What_ a day I'm having!" he said. "Let us start at once!"

  "Hold hard a minute, then!" said the Rat. He looped the painterthrough a ring in his landing-stage, climbed up into his hole above,and after a short interval reappeared staggering under a fat wickerluncheon-basket.

  "Shove that under your feet," he observed to the Mole, as he passed itdown into the boat. Then he untied the painter and took the scullsagain.

  "What's inside it?" asked the Mole, wriggling with curiosity.

  "There's cold chicken inside it," replied the Rat briefly:"coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater--"

  "O stop, stop!" cried the Mole in ecstasies. "This is too much!"

  "Do you really think so?" enquired the Rat seriously. "It's only whatI always take on these little excursions; and the other animals arealways telling me that I'm a mean beast and cut it _very_ fine!"

  The Mole never heard a word he was saying. Absorbed in the new life hewas entering upon, intoxicated with the sparkle, the ripple, thescents and the sounds and the sunlight, he trailed a paw in the waterand dreamed long waking dreams. The Water Rat, like the good littlefellow he was, sculled steadily on and forbore to disturb him.

  "I like your clothes awfully, old chap," he remarked after some halfan hour or so had passed. "I'm going to get a black velvet smoking-suitmyself some day, as soon as I can afford it."

  "I beg your pardon," said the Mole, pulling himself together with aneffort. "You must think me very rude; but all this is so new to me.So--this--is--a--River!"

  "_The_ River," corrected the Rat.

  "And you really live by the river? What a jolly life!"

  "By it and with it and on it and in it," said the Rat. "It's brotherand sister to me, and aunts, and company, and food and drink, and(naturally) washing. It's my world, and I don't want any other. Whatit hasn't got is not worth having, and what it doesn't know is notworth knowing. Lord! the times we've had together! Whether in winteror summer, spring or autumn, it's always got its fun and itsexcitements. When the floods are on in February, and my cellars andbasement are brimming with drink that's no good to me, and the brownwater runs by my best bedroom window; or again when it all drops awayand shows patches of mud that smells like plum-cake, and the rushesand weed clog the channels, and I can potter about dry shod over mostof the bed of it and find fresh food to eat, and things carelesspeople have dropped out of boats!"

  "But isn't it a bit dull at times?" the Mole ventured to ask. "Justyou and the river, and no one else to pass a word with?"

  "No one else to--well, I mustn't be hard on you," said the Rat withforbearance. "You're new to it, and of course you don't know. The bankis so crowded nowadays that many people are moving away altogether. Ono, it isn't what it used to be, at all. Otters, king-fishers,dabchicks, moorhens, all of them about all day long and always wantingyou to _do_ something--as if a fellow had no business of his own toattend to!"

  "What lies over _there_?" asked the Mole, waving a paw towards abackground of woodland that darkly framed the water-meadows on oneside of the river.

  "That? O, that's just the Wild Wood," said the Rat shortly. "We don'tgo there very much, we river-bankers."

  "Aren't they--aren't they very _nice_ people in there?" said the Molea trifle nervously.

  "W-e-ll," replied the Rat, "let me see. The squirrels are all right._And_ the rabbits--some of 'em, but rabbits are a mixed lot. And thenthere's Badger, of course. He lives right in the heart of it; wouldn'tlive anywhere else, either, if you paid him to do it. Dear old Badger!Nobody interferes with _him_. They'd better not," he addedsignificantly.

  "Why, who _should_ interfere with him?" asked the Mole.

  "Well, of course--there--are others," explained the Rat in a hesitatingsort of way. "Weasels--and stoats--and foxes--and so on. They're all rightin a way--I'm very good friends with them--pass the time of day when wemeet, and all that--but they break out sometimes, there's no denying it,and then--well, you can't really trust them, and that's the fact."

  The Mole knew well that it is quite against animal-etiquette to dwellon possible trouble ahead, or even to allude to it; so he dropped thesubject.

  "And beyond the Wild Wood again?" he asked; "where it's all blue anddim, and one sees what may be hills or perhaps they mayn't, andsomething like the smoke of towns, or is it only cloud-drift?"

  "Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wide World," said the Rat. "And that'ssomething that doesn't matter, either to you or me. I've never beenthere, and I'm never going, nor you either, if you've got any sense atall. Don't ever refer to it again, please. Now then! Here's ourbackwater at last, where we're going to lunch."

  Leaving the main stream, they now passed into what seemed at firstsight like a little landlocked lake. Green turf sloped down to eitheredge, brown snaky tree-roots gleamed below the surface of the quietwater, while ahead of them the silvery shoulder and foamy tumble of aweir, arm-in-arm with a restless dripping mill-wheel, that held up inits turn a grey-gabled mill-house, filled the air with a soothingmurmur of sound, dull and smothery, yet with little clear voicesspeaking up cheerfully out of it at intervals. It was so verybeautiful that the Mole could only hold up both fore-paws and gasp: "Omy! O my! O my!"

  The Rat brought the boat alongside the bank, made her fast, helped thestill awkward Mole safely ashore, and swung out the luncheon-basket.The Mole begged as a favour to be allowed to unpack it all by himself;and the Rat was very pleased to indulge him, and to sprawl at fulllength on the grass and rest, while his excited friend shook out thetable-cloth and spread it, took out all the mysterious packets one byone and arranged their contents in due order, still gasping: "O my! Omy!" at each fresh revelation. When all was ready, the Rat said, "Now,pitch in, old fellow!" and the Mole was indeed very glad to obey, forhe had started his spring-cleaning at a very early hour that morning,as people _will_
do, and had not paused for bite or sup; and he hadbeen through a very great deal since that distant time which nowseemed so many days ago.

  "What are you looking at?" said the Rat presently, when the edge oftheir hunger was somewhat dulled, and the Mole's eyes were able towander off the table-cloth a little.

  "I am looking," said the Mole, "at a streak of bubbles that I seetravelling along the surface of the water. That is a thing thatstrikes me as funny."

  "Bubbles? Oho!" said the Rat, and chirruped cheerily in an invitingsort of way.

  A broad glistening muzzle showed itself above the edge of the bank,and the Otter hauled himself out and shook the water from his coat.

  "Greedy beggars!" he observed, making for the provender. "Why didn'tyou invite me, Ratty?"

  "This was an impromptu affair," explained the Rat. "By the way--myfriend Mr. Mole."

  "Proud, I'm sure," said the Otter, and the two animals were friendsforthwith.

  "Such a rumpus everywhere!" continued the Otter. "All the world seemsout on the river to-day. I came up this backwater to try and get amoment's peace, and then stumble upon you fellows!--At least--I begpardon--I don't exactly mean that, you know."

  There was a rustle behind them, proceeding from a hedge wherein lastyear's leaves still clung thick, and a stripy head, with highshoulders behind it, peered forth on them.

  "Come on, old Badger!" shouted the Rat.

  The Badger trotted forward a pace or two, then grunted, "H'm!Company," and turned his back and disappeared from view.

  "That's _just_ the sort of fellow he is!" observed the disappointedRat. "Simply hates Society! Now we shan't see any more of him to-day.Well, tell us, _who's_ out on the river?"

  "Toad's out, for one," replied the Otter. "In his brand-new wager-boat;new togs, new everything!"

  The two animals looked at each other and laughed.

  "Once, it was nothing but sailing," said the Rat. "Then he tired ofthat and took to punting. Nothing would please him but to punt all dayand every day, and a nice mess he made of it. Last year it washouse-boating, and we all had to go and stay with him in hishouse-boat, and pretend we liked it. He was going to spend the rest ofhis life in a house-boat. It's all the same, whatever he takes up; hegets tired of it, and starts on something fresh."

  "Such a good fellow, too," remarked the Otter reflectively; "but nostability--especially in a boat!"

  From where they sat they could get a glimpse of the main stream acrossthe island that separated them; and just then a wager-boat flashedinto view, the rower--a short, stout figure--splashing badly androlling a good deal, but working his hardest. The Rat stood up andhailed him, but Toad--for it was he--shook his head and settledsternly to his work.

  "He'll be out of the boat in a minute if he rolls like that," said theRat, sitting down again.

  "Of course he will," chuckled the Otter. "Did I ever tell you thatgood story about Toad and the lock-keeper? It happened this way.Toad...."

  An errant May-fly swerved unsteadily athwart the current in theintoxicated fashion affected by young bloods of May-flies seeinglife. A swirl of water and a "cloop!" and the May-fly was visible nomore.

  Neither was the Otter.

  The Mole looked down. The voice was still in his ears, but the turfwhereon he had sprawled was clearly vacant. Not an Otter to be seen,as far as the distant horizon.

  But again there was a streak of bubbles on the surface of the river.

  The Rat hummed a tune, and the Mole recollected that animal-etiquetteforbade any sort of comment on the sudden disappearance of one'sfriends at any moment, for any reason or no reason whatever.

  "Well, well," said the Rat, "I suppose we ought to be moving. I wonderwhich of us had better pack the luncheon-basket?" He did not speak asif he was frightfully eager for the treat.

  "O, please let me," said the Mole. So, of course, the Rat let him.

  Packing the basket was not quite such pleasant work as unpacking thebasket. It never is. But the Mole was bent on enjoying everything,and although just when he had got the basket packed and strapped uptightly he saw a plate staring up at him from the grass, and when thejob had been done again the Rat pointed out a fork which anybody oughtto have seen, and last of all, behold! the mustard pot, which he hadbeen sitting on without knowing it--still, somehow, the thing gotfinished at last, without much loss of temper.

  The afternoon sun was getting low as the Rat sculled gently homewardsin a dreamy mood, murmuring poetry-things over to himself, and notpaying much attention to Mole. But the Mole was very full of lunch,and self-satisfaction, and pride, and already quite at home in a boat(so he thought), and was getting a bit restless besides: and presentlyhe said, "Ratty! Please, _I_ want to row, now!"

  The Rat shook his head with a smile. "Not yet, my young friend," hesaid; "wait till you've had a few lessons. It's not so easy as itlooks."

  The Mole was quiet for a minute or two. But he began to feel more andmore jealous of Rat, sculling so strongly and so easily along, and hispride began to whisper that he could do it every bit as well. Hejumped up and seized the sculls so suddenly that the Rat, who wasgazing out over the water and saying more poetry-things to himself,was taken by surprise and fell backwards off his seat with his legs inthe air for the second time, while the triumphant Mole took his placeand grabbed the sculls with entire confidence.

  "Stop it, you _silly_ ass!" cried the Rat, from the bottom of theboat. "You can't do it! You'll have us over!"

  The Mole flung his sculls back with a flourish, and made a great digat the water. He missed the surface altogether, his legs flew up abovehis head, and he found himself lying on the top of the prostrate Rat.Greatly alarmed, he made a grab at the side of the boat, and the nextmoment--Sploosh!

  Over went the boat, and he found himself struggling in the river.

  O my, how cold the water was, and O, how _very_ wet it felt! How itsang in his ears as he went down, down, down! How bright and welcomethe sun looked as he rose to the surface coughing and spluttering! Howblack was his despair when he felt himself sinking again! Then a firmpaw gripped him by the back of his neck. It was the Rat, and he wasevidently laughing--the Mole could _feel_ him laughing, right down hisarm and through his paw, and so into his--the Mole's--neck.

  The Rat got hold of a scull and shoved it under the Mole's arm; thenhe did the same by the other side of him and, swimming behind,propelled the helpless animal to shore, hauled him out, and set himdown on the bank, a squashy, pulpy lump of misery.

  When the Rat had rubbed him down a bit, and wrung some of the wet outof him, he said, "Now then, old fellow! Trot up and down thetowing-path as hard as you can, till you're warm and dry again, whileI dive for the luncheon-basket."

  So the dismal Mole, wet without and ashamed within, trotted about tillhe was fairly dry, while the Rat plunged into the water again,recovered the boat, righted her and made her fast, fetched hisfloating property to shore by degrees, and finally dived successfullyfor the luncheon-basket and struggled to land with it.

  When all was ready for a start once more, the Mole, limp and dejected,took his seat in the stern of the boat; and as they set off, he saidin a low voice, broken with emotion, "Ratty, my generous friend! I amvery sorry indeed for my foolish and ungrateful conduct. My heartquite fails me when I think how I might have lost that beautifulluncheon-basket. Indeed, I have been a complete ass, and I know it.Will you overlook it this once and forgive me, and let things go on asbefore?"

  "That's all right, bless you!" responded the Rat cheerily. "What's alittle wet to a Water Rat? I'm more in the water than out of it mostdays. Don't you think any more about it; and look here! I really thinkyou had better come and stop with me for a little time. It's veryplain and rough, you know--not like Toad's house at all--but youhaven't seen that yet; still, I can make you comfortable. And I'llteach you to row and to swim, and you'll soon be as handy on the wateras any of us."

  The Mole was so touched by his kind manner of speaking that he couldfind no voice to answer him;
and he had to brush away a tear or twowith the back of his paw. But the Rat kindly looked in anotherdirection, and presently the Mole's spirits revived again, and he waseven able to give some straight back-talk to a couple of moorhens whowere sniggering to each other about his bedraggled appearance.

  When they got home, the Rat made a bright fire in the parlour, andplanted the Mole in an arm-chair in front of it, having fetched down adressing-gown and slippers for him, and told him river stories tillsupper-time. Very thrilling stories they were, too, to an earth-dwellinganimal like Mole. Stories about weirs, and sudden floods, and leapingpike, and steamers that flung hard bottles--at least bottles werecertainly flung, and _from_ steamers, so presumably _by_ them; andabout herons, and how particular they were whom they spoke to; and aboutadventures down drains, and night-fishings with Otter, or excursions fara-field with Badger. Supper was a most cheerful meal; but very shortlyafterwards a terribly sleepy Mole had to be escorted upstairs by hisconsiderate host, to the best bedroom, where he soon laid his head onhis pillow in great peace and contentment, knowing that his new-foundfriend, the River, was lapping the sill of his window.

  This day was only the first of many similar ones for the emancipatedMole, each of them longer and full of interest as the ripening summermoved onward. He learnt to swim and to row, and entered into the joyof running water; and with his ear to the reed-stems he caught, atintervals, something of what the wind went whispering so constantlyamong them.

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